Okay, I have been converted. As one who once staunchly objected to NaNoWriMo, I get it now. It’s a really good motivator. At least for me.
I was in such a rut last year with personal stuff and couldn’t get out of my own head. All I could manage were short stories. The sequel to my first book was left by the wayside. Against all my internal protests, I decided to try NaNoWriMo 2017, my first ever, with the notion of writing a new project—the prequel to Life in the ’Cosm, called The Stealth Lovers. I knew I’d outline it like a series of short stories. I figured, What the heck? Let’s see what I can manage writing every day. I’d never really tried writing every day before because of my disability, so I decided to break the 50,000 word goal into small chunks. Never did I imagine I’d write that much in a month, anyway. This would just be a test.
I ended up with over 50K in the manuscript. What the actual [censored]?!
Huh. Whaddaya know? NaNoWriMo kickstarted me out the funk. And I had a start to a novel that I fell in love with.
Then real life came back and it was time to edit other authors’ books for several months. I found myself with less time to work on The Stealth Lovers, so I scheduled a two-month break for April and May 2018. My goal was to finish the first draft of my novel. I swear to you, I didn’t realize April was Camp NaNoWriMo. Had no clue! But it was, and I liked how I could set my own word count this time. I chose 25,000 words, feeling this is what I needed to complete the draft. And whaddaya know? I went very slightly over and the first draft is done! Will take the month of May to nurse what I’ve written so I can send a better version to beta readers before I go into intense self-editing.
So, yeah. That happened. Now I can’t object to NaNoWriMo anymore!
Why was I so against it for years? I reckon it was because of how I’d seen writers lament that they’d failed when they didn’t achieve the 50,000 words. One person was upset they’d only written 30,000 words. I was like: Um, dude. You wrote 30K. That’s amazing. It just so happened that I’d been exposed to people with really negative views or experiences of the thing. I felt turned right off.
But when I approached it, I did so as a Spoonie. I wanted to see if I could manage a 1670 daily word count last November. I also knew because of my chronic pain, I would treat myself as winning just for the attempt. Whatever amount of words I’d write, I would congratulate myself for it. I also stopped reading everything about NaNoWriMo and went by the beat of my own drum kit. By knowing my own body and not sprinting, I actually did the thing!
Now I have a novel. I’m pretty excited about it and can’t wait to get it polished enough for my beta readers. I’ve chosen a good bunch of people, too. This is where the real fun begins!
It also helps that my publisher is looking forward to publishing it, too!
Anyway, I still stand by what I say about NaNoWriMo—don’t think you’ve ever failed by trying your best. This event was invented so that people could spark themselves into writing—period. If you use it as a tool and not let it be your oppressor, you might find that it can help you meet writing goals, or make you fall in love with writing again. I’m kind of grateful I tried it.
But if it’s not for you, don’t force it. There are many ways to skin a cat.
You know, I’ve never understood that expression. I’ve also never known anyone who skinned cats. And really, would there be more than one way? Idioms are weird.
I’ll keep you posted here and on social media about the progress of The Stealth Lovers. In the meantime, you can read my proposed back blurb and watch the teaser trailer. If you’d not read Life in the ’Cosm yet, you can buy it here (or on any Amazon)!
Cait (pronounced like “cat”) Gordon is originally from Verdun, Québec, and has been living in the suburbs of Ottawa since 1998. Her first novel, Life in the ’Cosm (Renaissance) was published in 2016. Her short story, A Night at the Rabbit Hole, appears in the Alice Unbound: Beyond Wonderland anthology (Exile Editions). She’s currently working on The Stealth Lovers, a prequel to the ’Cosm series. For her day job, Cait is a freelance editor. Some of the titles she’s edited include Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks (Robin Elizabeth), Camp Follower: One Army Brat’s Story (Michele Sabad), Skylark (S.M. Carrière), Little Yellow Magnet (Jamieson Wolf), A Desert Song (Amy M. Young), and Moonshadow’s Guardian (Dianna Gunn). Cait is also the founder and editor of the Spoonie Authors Network, whose contributors manage chronic conditions and/or disabilities.